This week I am on a quest with two of my adult children. The quest is to experience the results of a weeklong detoxification diet. Although this is my first experience of this kind, it is my daughter’s second and my son’s fourth time cleansing in this way. I am in day two as I write and thought it would be interesting to share a little of my experience. Going into this week, or any similar type of journey, I have mixed feelings and as much enthusiasm as I can embody. Because I have chosen to do some edgy things like this, pushing my physical body to some limits in pursuit of a deeper awakening within me, I am well aware of the mixed bag that comes as part and parcel of partaking in this somewhat extreme experience. In most circumstances that I have experienced, there is the “fun” and the “not-so-fun” aspects. But I always keep the goal in mind – to realize the results of having successfully completed the tasks at hand so that I might experience a different, hopefully heightened, awareness in my being. My mixed feelings included the following: 1) some interest in the process and how I would respond to the restrictions I was imposing upon myself, 2) some excitement about feeling really terrific physically and mentally, the usual by-product of having only put into one’s body truly nourishing and wholesome foods and at the same time releasing any toxic build-up from the not so healthy consumptions that I indeed have enjoyed in the past, and finally 3) some dread when I thought about a whole week of giving up some pleasures of the day – food and drink. I am a "foodie", love to eat and cook and relax with a delicious meal and a glass of wine. I love my morning tea; every single day I appreciate the ritual of sitting and sipping my favorite black Assam tea. So the idea of giving up all this, all day, every day, for seven straight days felt like a long haul when I imagined myself going though it. The other dampening part of heading into the week was that my husband was not partaking of this journey with us. Knowing he would come home in the evening to our repetitive meals, knowing he and I would not be enjoying our mealtimes together for a whole week in the ways we are accustomed to, and missing out on the pleasure we enjoy through shared meal planning, preparing and choosing was simply not an attractive idea to consider. But in order to experience the goal, this was part of the package.
My two discoveries this week have been these. Firstly, I am in an ongoing experience of sacrificing in order to cultivate a particular quality within me. Although I am well aware of some sacrifices I make to live a particularly introspective lifestyle, many of these choices come naturally; they are what I prefer my life to be like and about. For instance, in some of my free time I read spiritual texts in order to delve more deeply into understanding the operations of our inner world and how this connects to the outer life. Other people might be learning tennis or golf, socializing with neighbors, searching on-line for bargains. Not me. My idea of fun is learning something new about how our inner worlds function and make sense of this thing we call life. So am I really sacrificing? I would say yes, because I do have an interest and desire to play tennis and golf, I do enjoying socializing with people I really care about and I do love a bargain. But in order to make life work well for me, to feel like I have a balanced life and am connecting with what I am truly passionate about, I must sacrifice other activities. There is just not enough time for everything I want to enjoy in this life.
Secondly, by sacrificing some pleasures and particulars that have some meaning to me for a period of time, I gain a new and more vivid appreciation for what I often take for granted. And relatively speaking, I think I live in deep gratitude, take little for granted, honestly appreciating what and who is in my life. But it is like this with any loss experience, when we are living without someone or something of value to us, we truly understand what they or it offered to change the quality of life. Not just in a mental way, but rather deeply in our being, emotionally the shift resonates and causes us to feel within our hearts the importance and value of what we have or have had. So the sacrifice of going without something we believe to be important for a time, allows us to feel more readily with our hearts. It is a small awakening of sorts.
As I finish writing this passage I am in day three. I still struggle with a headache and some body aching. Finally I resorted to some pain reliever after my son encouraged me not to purposefully suffer. I am not hungry at all; the supplements I take are many to support the detoxing process. I am enjoying the luxury of this experience in a healthy and balanced way. So I am well aware that my body did have a build up of toxins in it. I think about the relatively healthy quality of life that I enjoy and realize how without true effort and consciousness about our lifestyles, we can easily fall into the habits of our society that are currently creating a generally stressed, unhealthy, overweight, undernourished culture of people.
Once again I am reminded of what sacrifice is about. We give up in order to gain. When done in a holy or sacred way, we do this readily, with little complaint because we understand, deep within, that we are making an offering to the greater good. Whether the greater good is for our welfare, for those around us or for the good of all. As I continue and grow in this journey I call life and sense the deep interconnectedness of us all, I believe that the sacrifices we make for any good is for all good. And for this is I sit in deep gratitude.